Cambodian Green Mango Salad with Dried Shrimp

One of the highlights during my first trip to Cambodia back in 2006 was FOOD. Among the many authentic Cambodian dishes I sampled one particular stood out. In Battambang Province my Parents, relatives and I went out for dinner. I didn’t know what to order so one of my cousin suggested that I order Ngorm Makok (Ambarella Salad). I usually eat Makok pickled in a jar with salt and chili but never fresh and in the form of a salad. I gave it a go and within a few minutes the salad was on the table. The image and the flavors still linger in my mind until this day. It was so delicious! Then when I returned home I been wanting to recreate that dish but never had a chance to do so until my recent trip to Georgia. When I was there I popped my friend’s fridge opened and survey what was there. In the freezer I saw a bag of smoked fish that came from Cambodia. I immediately thought about my Ngorm Makok. It’s difficult to get my hands on fresh Makok in the states so I replace it with crispy and tart green mango. My recipe was based loosely on flavors I could recall from my 2006 trip along with my experience with making Cambodian salad. In no time I had my green mango salad with Cambodian smoked fish on the dinner table. Me and my friends all enjoyed it so much that I made it twice during my 5 days stay.

I don’t have Cambodian Smoked Fish at the moment so I just left it out and use dried shrimps instead. By pre-soaking the dried shrimp it will wash away the grainy stuff that might of been attached to them. It will also expand in size. I then toast to seal in the outer layer and pound it lightly with a mortar and pestle. This will keep it nice and crunchy and it doesn’t get soggy too quickly once it’s tossed in the salad. Chopped roasted peanuts are a great addition too but I totally forgot to include it this time.

Cook’s Note: If possible, try to buy the green mango in the vegetable section of the Asian Supermarket. The skin will have a light green color. The shape will be bit flat and oval. The flesh tend to be white or pale yellow. These variety has a crisp texture an a tart taste. Do not use the mangoes in the fruit section. Even though the outer peel may look green and hard to the touch, their flesh will still have that yellow color and tend to be soft and mushy when you cut into it unlike those you find at the Asian stores.

Cambodian Green Mango Salad with Dried Shrimp (makes 2 servings)
(Ngorm Svay Kjey Nung Bongkea Kream) ញុំាស្វាយខ្ចីនិងបង្គាក្រៀម

Video Tutorial:

1 medium size green mango, skin peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon lime juice (1 lime)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried shrimp, pre-soak in water about 30 mins
1 teaspoon chopped fresh bird’s eye chili (optional)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (mint, green onions, sawtooth, or basil)
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

Heat a small pan and lightly oil it. Add dried shrimps and give it a quick stir. Fry it to give them a nice crispy texture. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and lightly pound it to break up the fibers. This will allow the shrimp to absorb the flavors from the dressing but also retain that nice and crunchy texture. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, salt and fresh chili.

Add shallots, green mango, dried shrimp and fresh herbs. Toss the salad to combine.

Transfer to a serving plate and E-N-J-O-Y!

Cambodian Lime-Marinated Beef Salad

Here is another Classic Cambodian dish that is popular among Cambodian household. Marinated beef is tossed with fresh herbs and different vegetables. Chopped peanuts provide that extra nutty crunchy taste. My addition of jalapeños added a nice kick to every bite. It does look a bit similar to the Thai Style Larb with Beef. The addition of Pahok juice makes this distinctively Cambodian, but it’s optional.

What prompted me to make this dish was the beautiful bright red radishes that were on sale this week at the market. I’ve never worked with these beautiful things before but I bought it anyways because it was only .50 cent per bunch. Then I remembered that my Mother had use it in several of her salad recipes. I went to my cookbook collection and settled with The Elephant Walk Cookbook.

As I flipped through The Elephant Walk Cookbook I came across the recipe for Lime-Marinated Beef with Bean Sprouts and Mint. Author Longteine De Monteiro & Katherine Neustadt stated in the book “I fear that this recipe has been lost to the younger generation, and I would like to help restore it.” Her message did get across to me. My recipe is adapt loosely from this cookbook. I added a few additional ingredients, tweaked the measurements to fit my taste and also adjust my method of cooking the raw beef.

To be honest this was my very first time making it on my own plus eating this classic dish even though my Mother made had made it several times when I grew up. Mostly for my Father and his friends when they come over to practice traditional music for Cambodian weddings. This was way back in the late 80s. Now the gathering are smaller and less often. Perhaps it’s because the thought of eating raw beef doesn’t sound appealing to us kids even when we were told that it is technically cooked once it’s been cut into paper thin slice and marinated in lime juice. Still, we shook our heads and turned away. Instead we made fried eggs and poured soy seasoning sauce on top to go with our hot steamy rice. Which is what I did (again) as a back-up plan when I made this.

I was hesitant to taste my salad at first even when I used a different cooking method. But after a bite with my eyes tightly close, man oh man, it was G-O-O-D. Now I wish I had done it a long time. This dish is fairly easy to make and most of the cooking time goes to prepping. IMO, the meat can be prepared in many ways. You can grill it before making the salad or pan fry it after marinating. It’s is totally up to you. That is one of the perks of cooking your own dish.

Cambodian Lime-Marinated Beef Salad (makes 2-3 servings)
(Plear Sachko) ភ្លាសាច់គោ
adapt from The Elephant Walk Cookbook

Video Tutorial:

½ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon small stalk lemongrass, very thinly sliced
½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic
½ lb boneless top round, sliced as thinly as possible against the grain
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Pahok juice (optional)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 radishes, skin slightly peeled and thinly sliced
1 jalapeños, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and coarsely chopped

Partly freeze the beef to make it a bit firm. This will enable easy handling and ease of thinly slicing the beef.

Combine half of the lime juice with 1 tablespoons of sugar, the lemongrass and half of the garlic in a medium bowl. Mix well, then add the beef, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, water, Pahok juice (if using) and the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the sugar dissolves completely, then add the remaining lime juice, shallots, and the remaining garlic. Set aside.

Drain the beef, pressing gently with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. At this point, you can either proceed with the next step, or like me, take it another step forward by bringing about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil and then add the beef to cook for just one minute. Remove and strain. Allow it to cool to the touch and press it gently to remove excess liquid.

Return the beef to the mixing bowl and add sliced radish, jalapenos, bean sprouts, mint, basil and half the chopped peanuts. Toss well. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish the salad with sprinkles of peanut and serve.

Grilled Oysters with Spicy Lime Sauce

It’s been two days since I returned from my trip to Decatur, GA. I had a great time there. Toured many great places (will post pictures and video later) and had a chance to visit three different states while there. One of the highlights of this trip was cooking and eating with friends. We whipped up a lot of classic Cambodian dishes. If you were following me on twitter you probably saw my up-to-the-minute photos of those dishes. However, when I got back I was craving for something different, seafood. Unsure what triggered this craving but I was very happy when I picked up my mail and see that fresh oysters were on sale this week for only .50 cents each! It’s been a long time since I had grilled oysters.

Growing up in Stockton, CA my sister had a lot of gatherings with families and her friends. Oysters were pretty affordable there and they would buy them by the bag. I don’t know how many pounds there were but there were a lot in those bag. My Mother would sometime grill them and other times steam them. Some guest had their own way of making the sauce but my most favorite sauce to paired with grilled or steamed oysters in the shell is this spicy lime sauce. This sauce is very versatile and you can pair it with many grilled meats and seafood. It’s similar to the lime sauce that usually accompany Marinated Beef with Lime Sauce (aka Beef Lok Lac). The base is the same with a few extra ingredients added on. I’ve had it as dipping sauce as well where I simply grill some steak (un-seasoned), slice it thinly and wrap it in lettuce, cucumbers and fresh herbs then dunk it into the spicy lime sauce. DER-LICIOUS! :)

Grilled Oysters with Spicy Lime Sauce (for 10 oysters)
(Kjong Ang Tuk Jroluk Marech Kroach Chma)ខ្យងអាំងទឹកជ្រលកម្រេចក្រូចឆ្មារ

10 fresh oysters in their shell
½ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
a handful of fresh chopped herbs (such as cilantro, basil, green onions, Asian mint)
water (optional)

Video Tutorial to make Spicy Lime Sauce:

Prepare the grill and meanwhile clean the oysters. Using a stiff brush scrub the oyster under cold running water. Make sure you scrub around the opening edges well. Rinse off any dirt off the shell.

Place the oysters on the grill so that none are overlapping. Place oysters so that they’re resting on their deeply curved halves of their shells so their juices don’t run out.

Grill for about 5-7 minutes or until the oysters starts to open. Carefully remove from grill.

To make the spicy lime sauce, in a bowl combine all remainder ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust accordingly. If you feel that the lime is too strong for your taste you can dilute it with a couple teaspoons of water.

Some oysters might not open as wide as others therefore, you can use a fork to pry them open. Be careful, use kitchen towel if necessary. Serve on a half shell with some spicy lime sauce.

Easy Banana Fritters

What do you do when your banana turn spotty, black and overripe? Definitely do not throw them away. Save them for banana nut muffins, banana bread, and these easy banana fritters,. It takes only 5 minutes to put these ingredients together. They fry up in no time. This simple to make snack is pack with a sweet heavenly taste – wonderful bite of banana, soft, yet chewy in texture.

Easy Banana Fritters (makes about 20)
(Jake Jean Ngeay Sroul)

2 large over-ripe bananas (or 3 medium size)
½ cup sugar
a pinch of salt
a dash of pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup self rising flour, sifted
¼ cup of oil for frying

Mash banana and set aside.

In a mixing bowl add flour, add sugar, salt, vanilla extract, mashed bananas.

Use a fork or a whisk to mix them all together making sure that the overall mixture is neither too dry nor too wet.

Heat the oil and turn it back down to medium then drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into it. Flip and fry until both sides turns a golden brown, scoop it up and drain it well.

Panko Crusted Fish with Lemongrass Chili Sauce

I got my inspiration for this dish after wandering along the frozen fish section of Costco. Some fish fillets cost up to $20 a bag! What I did was glance over and saw some of their frozen already crusted fish and immediately thought about my dinner. It’s been so long since I left Costco will less than $20 out of my pocket. Normally I drop close to $100 each visit. So very glad I can resist my temptation this time. :) Wonder I was end up getting? Definitely not those crusted fish fillets but a bag of bananas, a carton or eggs, 3 cucumbers and a case (12 cans) of corn kernels which I have yet to decide what to do with them.

Panko bread is a variety of bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods. Panko is made from bread without crusts, thus it has a crisper, airier texture than most types of bread crumbs found in Western groceries. It flavorless really, and does not absorb as much oil when cook. Since my Lemongrass Chili sauce is a bit heavy on flavor I decided leave my fillets plain but with the crispy texture. You can choose to marinade the fish fillets first with a flavor of choice and then just coat it with the flour, egg and panko bread crumbs.

Panko Crusted Fish with Lemongrass Chili Sauce (Serves 2)
(Trey Jean Sroeuy Nung Tuk Mtess Kroeung) ត្រីចៀនស្រួយនិងទឹកម្ទេសគ្រឿង

2 fish fillets, I used tilapia
¼ cup rice flour, or any flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup oil for frying
green onions for garnish

Lemongrass Chili Sauce

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon Khmer Kroeung
1 tablespoon red pepper powder
1 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Rinse the fillets and pat dry. Make a station with 3 separate large plates one for flour, egg and panko bread crumbs. Use one hand (the dry hand) to dust the flour on lightly then move to the next station and drench the floured fillet with your other hand (wet hand). On the 3rd station return your dry hand and coat with panko bread crumbs. Press them in lightly so they stick to the fillet. Repeat this process until all fillets are done, set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan and once they are hot add the fillets and fry them. Watch carefully as the bread crumbs tend to brown pretty quick. Adjust heat accordingly. You can start with med-high heat and then crank it up toward the end to get a nice golden brown crust. Cook both side and allow to rest on paper towel to remove excess oil, which should not be much.

Next, make the lemongrass chili sauce but heating oil and added diced onions. Stir and cook until soften then add garlic. Give it a quick stir to release it’s flavor and aroma. Do the same with the Khmer Kroeung. Adjust the heat accordingly so the ingredients does not burn. Add the remainder ingredients and finish off with several stirs. If you find the sauce a bit thick you can add more oil. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking.

Plate it up and garnish with green onion. Serve with steamed rice.

Grilled Cornish Hen with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette

I enjoy cooking but I have my lazy days as well. The other day I picked up a bag of frozen wings section because I wanted to make Buffalo Wings. While the wings were in the oven, I came online to catch up on blogs that I follow. One of my favorite food writer is Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. She specializing in Asian cooking–recipes that are fast fresh and simple enough for tonight’s dinner. She also has her own cookbook called The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook currently available online and many bookstore shelves, sadly I can’t afford it so I sat in a corner and read it through. I love her writing style and the personal stories she adds to the recipes. One of her recent blog post featured the octo vinaigrette from Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan, which I do not own, again for the same reason. David Chang is the owner of not one but apparently three restaurants! I’ve never been to any of them, yet. :) Many of the food blogs I follow mentioned David Chang or Momofuku every now and then but it was at Steamy Kitchen Chicken Wings, Momofuku Style, where I found the recipe for the octo vinaigrette. That day the Buffalo Wings sauce was replaced with the octo vinaigrette. It was so easy to make and taste so good! I was too eager to test the wings that I didn’t get a chance to snap a shot.

This evening I decided to grill a small one pound Cornish hen (game hen) with octo vinaigrette again. A bit of butter was rub to achieve that extra crispy skin. I did tweak the octo vinaigrette a little to suit my taste bud. The thought of 2 tablespoons full of oil in a vinaigrette sort of frightens me. Instead I only use 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Also I ran out of red bird’s eye chili so I used the leftover green ones instead, seed and all. I did however, add chopped red bell pepper for color and a little extra crunch. Lettuce leaves were used as garnish but they end up as wrappers for the chicken and dipped into the vinaigrette, or in this case a sauce? 😀 Perhaps next time I might just add some rice noodles in the mix. 😛

Grilled Cornish with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette
(Mon Ang Nung Tuk Jroluk Kngey Ktum​ Saw) ម៉ាន់អាំងទឹកជ្រលក់ខ្ញីខ្ទឹមសរ
adapt from Momofuku Cookbook via Steamy Kitchen

1 Cornish hen, 16 oz/1 lb
1 tablespoon butter

Octo Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
7 bird’s eye chili (use less, omit, or remove seeds to reduce the heat)
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped red bell pepper (optional)


Split hen in half with a sharp knife or poultry shears, cutting through the breast bone and back bone. Wash and rinse chicken, pat dry with paper towel. This can be done in advance and allow the chicken to dry in the fridge with a paper towel.

Cut up 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and rub it all over the chicken. Insert some pieces under the skin too. Grill with skin side up for about 20 minutes then flip to grill on the other side (skin side).

Meanwhile make the octo vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients and mixing them well.

Once the henis grilled remove from heat and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Lay lettuce leaves on a platter and arrange hen. Drizzle octo vinaigrette on the top and also reserve on the side for dipping .

Durian Muffins

This year Valentine’s Day also happen to coincide with the Chinese New Year, year of the Tiger Grrrr. 😀 While many might be out celebrating I wander into the kitchen at 8:30PM and began pulling out my flour and muffin pan in attempt to try and make Num Doat Toorain នុំដត់ធុរ៉េន durian muffins, a recipe adapt from my Banana Nut Muffin which was originally adapt from

My first attempt failed. :( It was after everything was combined when I realized that I had used self-rising flour and used a tablespoon to measure out baking powder instead of a teaspoon. I reduce the amount of sugar thinking that the durian probably is too sweet already. I also notice that the batter was stiff, so very different from my Banana Nut Muffin batter. Then comes my shortage of muffin pan. I had a 6 muffin pan and didn’t feel like baking them twice so I over-fill them intentionally. Nevertheless, I continued on and hope for the best. Well, the outcome was not good. The muffin was a bit under-cooked. I could still taste the flour even after it pass the toothpick test. What went wrong? I end up shaving the bottom of the muffins off and sort of pick and eat the muffin top because I had fill them with some durian pulp.

I was contemplating whether I should try again last night. The wait for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics prime-time pair figure skating to air was too long so in between I took my time and measured my ingredients carefully. I made a couple of adjustments – use less baking powder, up the sugar to ½ cup, add ¼ cup milk to thin out the batter. spread it to 12 muffins instead of 6. Again, fingers-crossed once it was in the baking oven.

The sweet aroma smell filled my house and I instantly smiled because it didn’t happen the night before. I had hope this time. When 25 minutes was up, I carefully sneak and peek and see that the edges had brown beautifully so I promptly removed it and allow it to rest. It wasn’t for long because I was too anxious to do a taste test. Then it was “eyes opened wide” and jaw dropping moment followed by “WOW”! It taste amazing! It reminds me of my Mother’s Bai Domnub Toorain បាយដំណើបធុរ៉េន​ Sticky Rice with Durian Pudding. I am using frozen durian for this recipe. If you have access to fresh durian then by all means, use it. If using frozen durian like me then allow it to defrost first.

Durian Muffins (makes 12 regular size muffins)
(Num Doat Toorain) នុំដុតធុរ៉េន

1 cup flour, sifted
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
¼ cup milk
1 lb (16oz) durian meat, divided

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Use non-stick muffin pan or arrange baking cups in a muffin pan.

Mash half of the durian with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl add sifted flour, baking powder and sugar. Combine well.

Next make a well in the middle and add melted butter, vanilla extract, egg, milk and the remainder durian meat. Beat the ingredients with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until all ingredients are mixed together.

Spoon the batter into each of the baking cup and fill about halfway. Give them a tap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Scoop out some durian pulp was was set aside and top it off.
Note: Another method is to fill the batter a little on the bottom, then add a scoop of the durain pulp in the middle and continue to fill it with batter. This method will cause the muffin to rise a bit higher since there is no durian pulp weighing it down.

Bake for 25 minutes. The beautiful aroma will fill your kitchen. The sides will turn brown. Allow to cool before diving into them.

Fish Congee | Fish Rice Porridge

For the past 2-weeks I’ve been having major, major problems trying to fall asleep and staying asleep til morning. I find myself walking up after 2-3 hours and this goes on through the night. Perhaps too many stuff is wandering in my head during the day that sort of creep up and followed me into my sleep. It’s causing me to have breakouts and triggers my dermatitis problems again. I really need to do something about it. I know that getting a good night sleep is crucial for a healthy weight, beautiful skin and not to mention a healthy and bright mind.

Last night was no difference and I end up turning in to bed way past midnight. I need to remind myself not to take late showers because the strange sounds from the water heater, which is right in front of my bedroom door, is scaring the crap out of me. I’m paranoid thinking that someone is walking or knocking at my door in the middle of the freaking’ night! CRAZY!

I woke up early this morning and made some Baw Baw Trey បបរត្រី, Fish Congee (Rice Porridge). This is more of a Chinese style congee due to it’s simplicity and the ingredients being use. The Cambodian version, at least the one I remembered my Mother use to make, use fish sauce, sugar, as some of the ingredients. It was also topped off with salted soy beans, and mung bean sprouts. If you don’t like fish, you can also try firm tofu or try my basic Congee | Rice porridge recipe with your favorite toppings. Maybe it’s my eating habits that is effecting my sleep? So here is a start to healthy eating and a better night sleep.

Fish Rice Porridge (makes 2 servings)
(Baw Baw Trey) បបរត្រី


3 tablespoons medium or long grain rice
3-3½ cups of water
1 fish fillet (I used tilapia)
1 inch ginger, thinly slice then cut into long strips
1 piece salted turnip, dice (optional)
1 green onion (scallion) leaf, thinly slice
a wedge of lime (optional)

Fish Marinade

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon corn starch
2-3 dash white peper

Add rice and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes then reduce to a low simmer, cover partially so that it doesn’t spill over. Stir occasionally making sure the grains doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook for 45 minutes until you reach the desire consistency. If it’s too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, you can also remove some liquid.

Make marinade and add to thinly slice fish. Marinade for about 10 minutes.

About 2-3 minutes before rice porridge is done add the marinade fish into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and continue to cook. Fish is very delicate and since it was sliced thinly, it takes very little time to cook.

Ladle fish congee (rice porridge) to a bowl. Add ginger strips, green onion, salted turnip (if using). You can also add another dash of white pepper and/or drizzle some more soy sauce and sesame oil.

Serve hot with a wedge of lime.

Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I’m back. :) Did anybody miss me? I know I’ve been bad. :( I haven’t post anything in over a month! This is the longest it’s been idle since I revamp my website. Blame it on the shopping season which made me wander around different stores almost daily catching deals. Or was it the cold weather which forbidden me from going into the kitchen because my fingers are cold and I don’t feel like cooking. Well, whatever it is I am here now. 😛 Wishing my readers a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful and happy New Year.

It’s officially winter and my tush is freezing! A few weeks ago we had the chill advisory and now there is a snow storm in many parts of the US. This kind of weather makes me crave for hot soup like noodles or Yao Hon (Cambodian style hot pot). My Mother and sister will be preparing Yao Hon for our family Christmas dinner but had also asked me to make and bring some Roast Pork with Crackling. I’ve made it for them a couple of times and most recently during this past Thanksgiving, I guess it was a hit. :) So, Yao Hon this Friday but for now I wanted something to keep me nice and toasty like this hot, steamy and scrumptious Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup (Kuy Teav Sach Ko Khmer) គុយទាវសាច់គោខ្មែរ.

I call it Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup because I see and taste some difference if compared to the infamous Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup known as “Pho”. I admit that I have never made Vietnamese Pho before but have ate it numerous time. I don’t know what types of ingredients goes into making Pho but IMHO I do find the taste to be powerful, not in a bad way, but it’s like the spices used sort of dominate the broth rather than the flavors of from the beef. Growing up my Mother use very simple ingredients to make the broth and the key was to simmer for long hours so that the flavors from the beef bones are extracted and the meats become tender and juicy. Perhaps this is the same way Pho broth is made but I’m just saying that the amount of spices used in Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup is less than those used in Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. If anybody else notice any differences or similarities within these two noodle broth, please do share.

Awhile back I picked up a double pack of ox tail (about 3.5 lbs each) at Costco. The first packaged was used to make Beef Soup/Stew with Potatoes and Carrots and the second was tucked back in the freezer. You can use almost any types of beef bones. A great broth must be monitored by skimming off the frothy scum that rises to the top. To reduce the amount of these frothy scum, you might want to pre-boil the bones with about 8 cups of water. Discard the liquid and rinse the pre-boiled beef bones then continue with the process below.

Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup (makes 4 servings)
(Kuy Teav Sach Ko Khmer) គុយទាវសាច់គោខ្មែរ

12 cups of water
3 lbs of oxtail or other beef bones
5 beef bouillon cube
1 ½ lbs fresh rice noodles (if using dried noodles pre-soak in warm water for 30 minutes)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

Spices (add to tea/herb mesh ball)
1 star anise
½ tablespoon whole black peppercorn
½ tablespoon corriander seeds
5 cloves garlic, skin peeled and lightly mashed
2 inches of ginger, peeled and slice
1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce

Ideas for toppings/condiments
thinly sliced round-eye beef
thinly sliced sweet onions
beef balls
hoisin sauce
siracha chili sauce
pickled jalapeños (see my recipe)
mung bean sprouts
cilantro leaves
lime juice

Bring 12 cups of water to a boil and add ox tail (or beef bones). Bring it to a boil again and add 5 beef bouillon cube, quartered onions and spices in the mesh ball followed by all the seasonings. Let it boil for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to low and simmer cover for as long as you can go, preferably 2.5 hrs or more. Check once in awhile and skim off the frothy scum that might of rise to the top. If you want to reduce the fat content you can make the stock a day ahead and refrigerate it. By the next morning the fat will harden and rise to the top. This will make it easier to scoop out with a spoon. Discard the bones and remove the mesh ball. You can also strain it for a more liquid-y broth. But be sure to reserve any meat for toppings. Allow the broth to come to a rolling boil before serving.

When you are ready to assemble your noodle bowls, bring about 8 cups of water to a boil. (Strain) Separate noodles into 4 servings. Cook noodles in a strainer in boiling water until soften about 1-2 minutes. Empty the noodles (straining all the liquid back into the pot) into serving bowl.

It is now ready to assemble. Add additional toppings of your choice. The meat such as thinly sliced beef should be lay on the top of the noodles. Most meatballs comes pre-cook so you can just throw it in the hot broth to warm it up. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot broth evenly to cook and warm all the ingredients. Serve immediately with garnishes and your choice of condiments.

Baked Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter

**** Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Who’s cooking what this year? Please do share. :) I will contribute some dishes Asian-American style; roast turkey seasoned with some Asian spices, roast pork belly, and New York style cheesecake topped with fresh berries. This will be my very first Thanksgiving tackling so many dishes and I hope they turn out decent or edible. LOL ****

Who knew that something very simple can yield A-M-A-Z-I-N-G flavors! I bought a butternut squash for a Cambodian recipe I wanted to try which is Stir-Fried Pork with Butternut Squash but haven’t had a chance to make that. Since I will be spending time with my family in Stockton, CA this Thanksgiving holiday (for 4 days) I did not want my beautiful butternut squash to go bad while I am away. My light bulb moment came as I recall a recipe from the Food Network Channel by Paula Deen. Paula made Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter with a splash of maple syrup. I tweak the recipe a bit. I sub the acorn squash with my butternut squash, reduce the amount of maple syrup and add about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. My whacked gas oven end up baking it at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours! Do the toothpick/fork test about 40 minutes into baking as your oven might be of better quality than mine, hence doesn’t take as long.

I took a bite and OMG, it was SO GOOD! It was after I finish eating one half that I went back to take some pictures. 😀 The flavors reminded me of a Cambodian dessert my Mother used to make called Pumpkin Dessert (Num Lapov) នំល្ពៅ made with kabocha or butternut squash with coconut flesh and milk, wrapped in banana leaves and steam. If you prefer a more sweeter version, then increase the sugar or syrup however do keep in mind that squash comes with it’s natural sweetness.

Baked Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter
(Lapov Doat Jear Muy Skaw Nung Buer) ល្ពៅដុតជាមួយស្ករនឹងប៊ឺ
adapt from Recipes courtesy Paula Deen, 2007

1 (1½ lb) butternut squash, cut in halves lengthwise
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile cut squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and remove stringy pulp.

Combine sugar, butter, syrup, cinnamon and salt.

Rub all over the cut side of squash.

Use aluminum foil to lightly cover the cut size and bake with cut side up for about 40 minutes until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Then remove aluminum foil and switch broil for an additional 5-10 minutes to get that nice brown caramelize color.

Remove an allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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